Here’s what I saw this morning at 6:50 am:

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The only people I saw were two men preparing the St. Joseph Chapel altar and the man who daily puts the oil in the lamps around the Confessional staircase!|

I was meeting Fr. Ryan Brady who had reserved the beautiful and historical Clementine Chapel for Mass at 7:15 for a number of American seminarians in town for several weeks on what is called the Rome Experience. There are about 24 seminarians in the group from 7 U.S. dioceses.

More people had come to the basilica by the time Ryan was vesting in the sacristy, and most were pilgrims with other priests, often their pastors, saying Mass in St. Peter’s.

The Clementine Chapel seats 8 people and is, I believe, the smallest of the chapels beneath the basilica in the grotto area of St. Peter’s. You can see the wall behind the altar – on the other side of that wall St. Peter is buried! For this reason, the Clementine is one of the most requested chapels in the basilica.  It was commissioned by Pope Clementine VIII (1592-1605).

The Clementine is right across the chapel dedicated to Pope Pius XII:

I got to know several of them after Mass when we had breakfast at Homebaked. Fr. Ryan is on the left. Perhaps you’ve read my story of the chalice that was in the Lewis family for years, a chalice I gave to Ryan on his ordination last year on May 15. (https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/a-chalice-goes-home/)